In 2018, then-offensive coordinator Ryan Day and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano became the first Ohio State Buckeyes assistants to get a seven-figure paycheck, both earning at least $1 million that season to keep them in Columbus after multiple NFL teams were interested in each of them. Fast forward to 2020, and there will be four (4!) assistants on Day’s staff that will make at least $1 million this season. It marks the first time in college football history that four assistants on one staff will earn at least $1 million in a single season.1 To put that in perspective, Ohio State’s nine assistants made a combined $4.485 million in 2017, an average of $498,000 per assistant. In 2020, that average will rise to $799,000 or 10 full-time assistants, a 60% increase in just three years.
Returning to the Buckeyes after a two-year stint with the Tennessee Titans, Kerry Coombs will be the highest-paid assistant coach on the staff, with a $1.4 million salary for the upcoming season. To put that in perspective, the defensive coordinator $600,000 in the final season of his first stint with the Buckeyes in 2017. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson will make $1.2 million, co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and associate head coach and defensive line coach Larry Johnson will make $1.133 million, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa will make $700,000, running backs coach Tony Alford will make $618,000, wide receivers coach Brian Hartline will make $550,000, linebackers coach Al Washington will make $515,000, special teams coordinator Matt Barnes will make $450,000, and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis will make $300,000 this fall.
Ohio State director of sports performance Mickey Marotti, who is essentially the engine that runs the football program and the guy that keeps everybody in line (and in shape), will make $801,150 this upcoming season, a 9% raise from 2019. He was the second-highest paid strength coach in college football last season, only behind Iowa’s Chris Doyle ($800,020).
In terms of percentage of salary, Dennis received the biggest raise after being promoted from senior quality control coach to quarterbacks coach. It was a well-deserved promotion given how he has performed on both Urban Meyer and Day’s staff and with the praise he has received from Ohio State quarterbacks past and present as well.
While some will argue that Hartline isn’t making nearly enough given that he was named the National Recruiter of the Year in early February, given his experience as an Ohio State, his salary will only continue to rise as the years go on, especially if he continues to dominate on the recruiting trail and his wide receivers continue to dominate on the field and in the NFL. He was one of six (of 10) full-time assistants to receive a six-figure raise. That’s not a bad day at the office, eh?
After the 10 full-time assistants made $7.245 million in 2019, which ranked third in the country, the group will make just under $8 million combined in 2020, only behind Alabama and Clemson. It’s a well-deserved pay raise for the group after the Buckeyes went 13-1, won their third straight Big Ten championship, and returned to the College Football Playoff in Day’s first season leading the way, according to Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith.
“I couldn’t have been more impressed with the performance of our coaching staff under the direction of Ryan Day in 2019,” Smith said. “What they accomplished both on the field and in the way they led and mentored our students-athletes was exemplary. We look forward to much of the same in 2020.”
Along with his assistants, Day also received quite a big raise when he signed a three-year contract extension on February 25, which will keep him under contract at Ohio State through 2026. After being paid $4.5 million in 2019 (along with $450,000 in bonuses) in his first season leading the Buckeyes, the head coach will be paid $5.74 million this fall, while Ohio State will also make a $1 million contribution to his retirement plan on December 31, 2020. He will receive $6.5 million in total compensation for the 2021 season and $7.6 million in 2022.2
It’s a raise and extension that Day is excited about. He must be proud to see his assistants be given big-time raises as well.
“I think the person and the people that were the most excited about that were my kids because they knew that they weren’t going to be the new kid in school for a long time again, and that’s the idea, is that we’re here for a long time,” Day said last week after he was asked about his new contract and extension. “And I certainly couldn’t be more grateful for the Board of Trustees, President Drake and obviously Gene Smith, who I owe everything to him, and obviously Urban Meyer, to be in this position, because that’s a big deal.
“That changes our life as a family, and we don’t take that lightly. But the number one thing that we’re the most excited about as a family is we get to be in Columbus again for hopefully the next seven to 10 years, hopefully, 20 years. We want to be here as long as we can. We love it here. The kids love the school system. They have a set of friends. Nina loves it here. And that’s what’s most exciting about this.”
That’s certainly good to hear, I just hope that Day keeps his word. He’s already proven that he’s one of the best head coaches in college football. Ohio State is lucky to have a guy like Day after the way things ended with Urban, the Buckeyes have already proven their thankfulness with the recent extension that they gave to the head coach.
Like Day, the 10 assistants have the opportunity to receive bonuses this fall based on team performances, the same bonuses from 2019:
Whether you believe the raises are over the top or not, one thing is clear: The SEC (and Clemson) pay their assistant coaches a lot. Ohio State isn’t trying to compete (and dominate) just the Big Ten, they need to stay with the Alabamas and Clemsons of the world. That means paying your assistant coaches big-time money. It is what it is, but it’s what has to be done to continue to have one of the best programs in college football on a yearly basis.